très cool

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Paris. The city of love. The birthplace of dreaming. The hub of art and literature and culture and everything très cool. But most importantly Paris is the city where I tasted the best croissant of my entire life. The Parisians pride themselves on their Frangipane, which is a melt-in-your-mouth pastry cake made with ground almonds and all things heavenly. It is a special tradition, made and eaten around Christmas and the first few weeks of the new year.

Inspired by this cake and by their many artisan patisseries, I created a ‘Ceire’s Kitchen’ version of their Sables biscuit. Perfect with a cuppa tea or even better, some mulled wine…

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Ingredients:

  • 150g flour
  • 50g almond meal
  • 100g butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 egg
  • teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 40g dark chocolate

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180’C
  • Cut butter into small cubes and combine with the flour and almond meal until it resembles bread crumbs (use an electric mixer as it’s much quicker).
  • Mix in the sugar and vanilla essence
  • Break in the egg and mix gently by hand.
  • Roll out mixture until 1cm thick and use round cookie cutters to cut into shapes.
  • Bake for 10min or until golden brown.
  • Chop up dark chocolate into small pieces and melt in microwave.
  • Using a spoon, artistically drizzle the melted chocolate onto your biscuits.
  • Voilà !

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perfect paella

ceire1

When in Spain, do as the Spanish!

One of my all time favourite breakfasts in Spain was: fresh baguette rubbed with garlic, thick slices of tomato, salt, cracked pepper and lashings of olive oil. Wow! The simplicity and quality of these ingredients! After our week in Spain, I felt inspired to cook and eat in a new way.

Walking through the streets of Madrid and Barcelona we saw guys cooking paella on huge open pans – a bit of a theatrical show at times!

Cooking this dish might seem a bit touristy and overdone, but it encapsulates some values which I hold dear: using what you’ve got, using whats plenty and making lots for unexpected visitors who might pop by with an empty stomach.

 

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Ingredients:

(feeds 4 people)

  • 1 cup long grain rice (add more if needed)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cup frozen peas or snap peas
  • 1 good quality chorizo sausage
  • About 300g de-shelled prawns
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 flat teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 red chilli
  • salt and pepper and garlic
  • handful parsley
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Method:

1. This is my special little trick! Slice up your chorizo, no oil needed but cook in a large pan on a medium heat and add the wine and honey. You could eat some of this chorizo just by itself with crusty bread as a starter!

2. Put the chorizo aside but leave the oil in the pan. Fry up the red onion in the same pan, until soft. Add the red pepper, spices, sliced chilli (leave the seeds in for extra heat) and garlic. Lastly add the frozen peas. Cook for a few minutes and then remove from the heat. Add your chorizo to this pan and give it a stir.

3. Start cooking your rice in a pot, adding some of the juices from your cooked veggies and chorizo.

4. Now for the prawns! I bought frozen ones which I simply de-shelled and cooked in a separate pan on a medium heat with a knob of butter. When they turn a pink colour, you know they’re ready.

5. In your big frying pan that your veggies and chorizo are in, add the rice and prawns. Give it a bit of a mix, season to taste, add in your torn parsley and squeeze the juice from half the lemon. Cut the other half into slices and mix in with your paella.

6. ” Muy buena”!!

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